Cambodian Bloggers Summit
August 30-31 2007
The first ever Cambodian Bloggers Summit is being held in Phnom Penh at Pannasastra University of Cambodia. It is also my first participation in technological event as I am not expert at all in this field --International Relations is my major. However, I found this summit was even more interesting and it did not only touch on technological arena, but also legal and social associated.
- After hearing the case study of Young Bloggers (Deedee who expressed her angle and aims in creating the blog); “Citizen Journalism Vs Main Stream Media” panel discussion gave more thoughts on how blogs help to provide a space for journalists and the obstacle for them to access to blog (include language, internet cost, IT skill, and media freedom barrier). Though the panel raised matters of professionalism and rumor, it is questionable to have cyberspace law. At one point, some participants suggested that there must be law to rule the way of expression through blog to prevent misconducts; however, the experience of media restriction (through legal measures such as defamation, disinformation and other forms of threats) proved that the law will be the obstacles for bloggers.
- Next, Cyber Cambodian topic was discussed. Obstacles and measures to make the cyberspace available to everyone were elaborated through 5-point recommendations: (1) Government Policy—lowering the tax on IT materials import and internet service providers (2) Law—to guarantee and protect the rights of users (3) Infrastructure—adjust the rural and urban facility, even concerning to electricity accessibility and affordability (4) Content—make it easy for all users, language choices for example. Remarkably, the panel also pointed out the benefit of blogging for parliamentarians (especially for opposition party whose freedom of expression is also challenged).
- E-community: Mostly I heard about E-commerce, but now I learn new word of E-community. Thanks Mr. Chanthan for giving information on how E-community work and Phatry for sharing the KhmerConnection which is the e-community of Khmer-American where they can share value, information and keep connected.
- Social Web-Web 2.0 (Five Steps to Khmer 2.0) was presented by Beth Kanter. It was very interactive presentation and a lot of information sharing on how to find bloggers and specific topic through Technorati, what is the use of Tags, del.icio.us, and creative comment license. Beth raised a good and tasty example of Prohoc (Khmer food) to make audience understand and follow her instructions.
- Group Discussions: It was a little bit crowded before groups could be set up, until we can find a way to divide participants into groups—through asking them to gather according to their day of birth (as we required to have 7 groups, so as there are 7 days per week, it is perfectly settled). Interestingly, Friday’s group gained more members while Wednesday-Thursday-Sunday had to mix up, so we could only have 5 groups. The topic we discussed: (1) How to make a good blog? (2) Cyber Safety (3) Team Blogging -- I was in this group; Firday’s group (4) Self-Censorship (5) Internet for what?.
- Debate on whether it is better to blog in Khmer or English. Sala (Khmer blog advocacy) was trying to convince everyone to blog in Khmer for the culture reason (Use Khmer language is the way to preserve Khmer culture); language barrier (many Cambodians could read and blog in Khmer if we could not understand English). Though Preetam somehow nodded his head when listening to Sala’s defense (the sign of agreement), he draw strong arguments that English blogging can reach large audiences which it will not be only read by Khmer by the world. Also he gained a lot of voices from participants who prefer to blog in English. They both convinced me to upgrade my blog in both languages and I hope to have my blog be visible in Khmer language in future.
Wow, I feel I learnt a lot from a whole day workshop. I whish to hear from other bloggers to share their idea or add to what I have mentioned. In addition, I would like to raise 2 issues:
- How we ensure the cyberspace as freest form of communication if the press law or/and disinformation and defamation are also applied?
- Concerning to geographic and accessibility, how we ensure that cyberspace is justified for social equity?